BRITISH Gas workers are set to hold 12 further strikes in the coming weeks amid ongoing pay disputes at the firm, the GMB union has announced.
The fresh industrial action will be in three lots of four-day strikes, each beginning at midnight on 12 February, 19 February and 26 February, GMB said in a statement.
Around 7,000 union members have already staged 12 strikes this year after British Gas owner Centrica said it plans to cut about 5,000 jobs to “arrest the decline” of the company. Engineers will walk out today for another four-day strike.
Workers have claimed Centrica is attempting to push through pay cuts by threatening to “fire and rehire” workers, with almost 90 per cent of GMB union members voting for industrial action against the firm in December.
This week’s strike could see more than 200,000 households around the UK face delays to their boiler repairs as temperatures plummet below freezing in some parts of the country.
GMB national secretary Justin Bowden accused Centrica boss Chris O’Shea of “doubling down on his fire and rehire cuts in pay and conditions” for British Gas workers.
“O’Shea threw down the gauntlet to the gas engineers on hated fire and rehire and they picked it up,” Bowden said, adding that “longer term, the practice of fire and rehire should be outlawed”.
O’Shea earlier this week revealed he had been “sent excrement” in the post over the pay dispute.
O’Shea told MPs at a business committee meeting that the package was received by his wife and teenage son “with a note about fire and rehire”.
O’Shea said he understood what he was asking was “difficult”, but that he was “not immune” to the situation.
“I know this puts a lot of pressure on people,” O’Shea told the Business Select Committee. “Only yesterday my wife and teenage son had a package of excrement delivered to them with a note about fire and rehire. This is something that affects absolutely everybody.”
“Undoubtedly what I’m asking people to do is difficult, I won’t shy away from that,” he added. “However, my view is that I would rather do everything in my power to save the 20,000 jobs that we’ve got.”
GMB national officer Justin Bowden accused Centrica of “poisoning the well” by “putting the cart before the horse”.